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Why were the Pharisees and scribes and synagogue officials deserving of such judgment? This story demonstrates the urgent need for repentance on the part of the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel that had just been dealt with in vvs. 1-9. It also demonstrates the type of division that Jesus had promised He would cause.

Ralph Wilson: When I first read this story I think it is about Jesus’ opposition to legalism. Then I re-read it and think it is about Jesus’ victory over Satan’s oppression. And then I re-read it and see it as a simple story of love. Whatever it is, I find it profoundly moving.


A. (:10) Standard Practice = Teaching in Synagogue on Sabbath

“And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.”

Morris: This is the last time Jesus is recorded to have taught in a synagogue or even to have been in one.

B. (:11) Severe Disability Attributed to an Evil Spirit

“And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness

caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all.” A posture problem of this magnitude would interfere with everyday tasks and social relationships. It would put a strain on organs of the body, affecting health in various ways. She is forced to spend life looking down at the ground rather than up at the sky. She cannot look people in the eye.

Steven Cole: But in spite of all her years of going to the synagogue, this woman was in bondage to this debilitating illness that Jesus ascribes to Satan. As such, she is a picture of the millions who attend religious services every week for years, but they live in spiritual bondage to sin and to the prince of darkness. They are often sincere people, but they are bent over under the load of sin and guilt. The religious system tolerates their bondage and perhaps even shrugs it off as accepted. But it can’t deliver them from it. What they need is what this woman experienced, a personal encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ.

MacArthur: Now all of a sudden she becomes the centerpiece of the whole day. And Jesus puts her front and center and makes her the focal point of everything. And I love this about Him. He… He reveals His utter indifference to their system of rank and status. He reveals His utter indifference to their perception of privilege. He reveals His complete indifference to their sense…sense of achievement. He had no affection for their honor system. He honors the outcast woman and He humiliates the ruler. He has no affection for their perverted Sabbath. And He supersedes their authority with His own. He has no interest in their self-righteousness, seeking to be elevated. And He elevates one they would seek to sweep away.

C. (:12-13) Spectacular Healing at the Loving Initiative of the Great Physician

1. (:12) Freeing Her From the Sickness

“And when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her,

‘Woman, you are freed from your sickness.’”

2. (:13a) Restoring Her to Full Health

“And He laid His hands upon her; and immediately she was made erect again,”

Steven Cole: But even though salvation does not always bring instant deliverance from long-term problems, it always results in an instantaneous, dramatic change of heart that comes from nothing less than the supernatural power of God. Conversion means that the formerly dead sinner receives new life from God. God changes his heart of stone into a heart of flesh that is warm toward the things of God. The formerly blind sinner’s eyes are opened so that he now can see spiritual truth. The formerly captive sinner is loosed from his chains and set free so that he now can have power over the sin that held him in bondage. All of these biblical metaphors for conversion teach us that it is not merely a human decision to turn over a new leaf. Conversion requires the life-giving power of God in raising the sinner from the dead.

3. (:13b) Glorifying God

“and began glorifying God.”



A. (:14) Synagogue Official — Indignant

“And the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the multitude in response, ‘There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’”

Geldenhuys: probably the head of the council of ten Jewish men of the vicinity controlling the local synagogue

Lenski: He is indignant with Jesus but dares not attack Jesus in person and so directs his objection to the multitude that crowded the synagogue.

Wiersbe: The bondage of the ruler of the synagogue was worse than that of the woman. Her bondage affected only her body, but his bondage shackled his mind and heart. He was so bound and blinded by tradition that he ended up opposing the Son of God!

William Barclay: To Jesus the Scribes and Pharisees were men who were acting a part. What he meant was this. Their whole idea of religion consisted in outward observances, the wearing of elaborate phylacteries and tassels, the meticulous observance of the rules and regulations of the Law. But in their hearts there was bitterness and envy and pride and arrogance. To Jesus these Scribes and Pharisees were men who, under a mask of elaborate godliness, concealed hearts in which the most godless feelings and emotions held sway.

B. (:15-16) Jesus

1. (:15) Argument From Jewish Practice Regarding Caring for Animals on the Sabbath

“But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead him away to water him?’”

Donald Miller: hypocritical regard for the Law which objected to an incident that illustrated in deepest purpose – the glory of God.

Morris: The rabbis were greatly concerned that animals be treated well. On the sabbath, animals could be led out by a chain or the like as long as nothing was carried. Water could be drawn for them and poured into a trough, though a man must not hold a bucket for the animal to drink from. If animals may be cared for in such ways, much more may a daughter of Abraham be set free from Satan’s bondage on the sabbath.

2. (:16) Argument From the Lesser to the Greater

“And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

David Guzik: Jesus gave several compelling reasons why it was appropriate to show her mercy, and more appropriate than helping a distressed animal.

1) She was a woman—made in the image of God, and because a woman and not a man, worthy of more care and concern.

2) She was a daughter of Abraham, a Jewish woman, with a covenant connection to Abraham. This may also indicate that she was a woman of faith, as well as her attendance at synagogue.

3) She was one whom Satan had bound, and every day is a good day to oppose the work of Satan and to set free his captives.

4) She was afflicted for eighteen years, long enough to suffer greatly and to draw forth the compassion of Jesus and others.

C. (:17a) Opponents — Humiliated

“And as He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated;”

Continuous action

D. (:17b) Multitude — Rejoicing

“and the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.”

Continuous action

Ralph Wilson: When Jesus corrects us we can sometimes feel humiliated, Greek kataischuno, “put to shame, humiliated.” The synagogue president and his cohorts have set themselves up against Jesus as opponents, Greek antikeimai. This also is a compound word, from anti- “over against, opposite to,” and keimai, “to lie.” Those who place themselves on a different path than Jesus, those who hold a different philosophy of life than the Master, make themselves his opponents. They are constantly in his way. My friend, we can unwittingly find ourselves as Jesus’ opponents. Sometimes we can set our will to do something completely contrary to Jesus’ spirit and direction. Then we are his adversaries, and deserving of whatever correction and humiliation that comes with our stubbornness.

The crowd, on the other hand are rejoicing, Greek chairo, “to be in a state of happiness and well-being, ‘rejoice, be glad.’ ” Rather than seeing in Jesus’ actions an affront to their rules, they see deeds described with the Greek endoxos, “glorious, splendid.”